The other day I mentioned an exchange that I had with regular R.-J. columnist and occasional libertarian Vin Suprynowicz, over an ill-tempered blog post he wrote on so-calledillegal immigration. Since my most recent comment on the post was deep-sixed into a moderation queue and shows no signs of reappearing, I offer this post as a way of recording the conversation so far in full.
Vin’s original article, Speaking in code words to disguise what they really mean,, is an extended complaint about a recent immigration freedom rally in Vegas — not the 1 May marcha that I participated in, but a more recent rally by Reform Immigration for America, focused on family reunification. Suprynowicz reacted with a polemic against the allegedeuphemismsbeing used by thoseradicals(his word; he says it like it’s supposed to be a bad thing somehow) who would dare propose even the smallest rollbacks of government constraints on voluntary migration. One of these euphemisms, he says, is calling people who move to Nevada without a permission slip from the United States federal governmentundocumented immigrants,or evenimmigrantsat all; instead, we are told, they should be calledtrespassing illegal aliens.We are also told that fewer government restrictions on immigration would lead to the swarming and bankrupting ofour current [state] socialist policieslike government-run schools and hospitals. And he tells us that anyone who does not support the most rigorous and aggressive enforcement of the Fugitive Alien Acts by federal police agencies ispromoting amnesty,which is, apparently, supposed to be a condemnation beyond any hope of appeal:
These radicals [sic] can use all the euphemisms they please to avoid the word, but anyone who believes illegal trespassers should not be deported — or imprisoned and THEN deported — is promoting amnesty, and needs to answer the question: How does giving amnesty to a couple million knowing law-breakers not encourage the next set of knowing law-breakers, inviting them in no uncertain terms toCome on in and enjoy all the free stuff; after a few years you can get?amnestied, too!
Well, I wouldn’t know; but one of the advantages of being an unterrified radical is that you don’t have to live in fear of boogey-words, or waste time defining down your goals to suit the status quo. (On which, see GT 2007-11-12 Sin Fronteras.) I don’t know all the details of what Reform Immigration for America stands for, but, in any case, I’ll be your huckleberry: sure, I’m for amnesty — immediate, complete, and unconditional amnesty, without any penalties and for every single criminalized immigrant in this grand old country. I’m promoting amnesty, and I’m promoting open borders, too, so I don’t care how many people show up in hopes of thenextamnesty. If I really had my way, there’d be nonextamnesty — because there’d be no government border laws left for anyone to violate.
So here was my first reply. (In which I chose, for rhetorical reasons, to use Vin’s own terms, usingsocialistto meanstate socialist,and alsoillegal immigrant,for undocumented immigrants, a phrase that I would never choose for myself in conversation, because I think it’s dehumanizing and brutal. But in this context, I chose to use the phrase rather than criticize it, because part of the basic problem here is the underlying notion that there’s something morally wrong with breaking government laws.) Anyway:
The people to whom Ms. Arguello-Kline refers asimmigrantsaren’timmigrants,by that sensible definition, at all. They’re trespassing illegal aliens,
Atrespasseris someone who intrudes on another person’s property against the will of the property-owner.
Let’s pretend I’m an illegal immigrant renting an apartment, working for a meat-packing plant, shopping at the local grocery store, et cetera. Presumably my landlord is willing for me to live on his or her property: if the owner didn’t want me to live there, he or she wouldn’t have signed the lease. Presumably, also, my boss is willing for me to be inside his or her plant; otherwise he or she wouldn’t be paying me to do it. Presumably, also, the stores I shop at are willing for me to be inside their stores: otherwise, they wouldn’t welcome my business.
So just whose property, exactly, am Itrespassingon?
How does giving amnesty to a couple million knowing law-breakers not encourage the next set of knowing law-breakers, inviting them in no uncertain terms toCome on in and enjoy all the free stuff; after a few years you can get?amnestied, too!
You sayknowing law-breakerslike it’s supposed to be a bad thing to knowingly break the law. Coming from someone who so vocally praises the American Revolution, this seems odd.
If the radicals who gathered downtown on June the first want to demonstrate in favor of a mass amnesty — for open borders, over which hundreds of millions of the world’s poor and oppressed would be invited to come here and swarm our free public schools and free hospital emergency rooms until our current socialist policies drive us finally, completely, bankrupt — let them at least say what they mean.
That sounds like a problem with the socialist policies, not a problem with free immigration.
Why exactly do you want to save socialist policies like government control over schools and hospitals?
(For more on conservative welfare statist arguments against immigration freedom, see GT 2007-12-13: On the dole.)
So, presumably, if I wrote warning people not to let their children swim in the river because there are crocodiles,Rad Geek,hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, would ask:
Why exactly do you want to save the practice of crocodiles eating little children just because they go swimming in inappropriate places?
Signing my name, standing tall and risking the consequences, I have fought a radical, no-compromise battle for the complete shutdown — not some kind of half-assedreform,but the literal dynamiting (once the children have been removed to a safe distance) — of the government schools, and every government income redistibution bureaucracy, for more than 15 years.
Warning of — heck, simply observing — the consequences of allowing unlimited millions of people to violate American immigration laws, arriving here to flood the government welfare schools and enormously expensive tax-subsidized hospital emergency rooms every time they come down with the sniffles, means I want tosavethese evil redistributionist schemes?
How does acknowledging a reality of which we disapprove indicate we want tosaveit? By this logic, if you believe the Constitution forbids government agents from restricting your right to carry a loaded firerarm into a federal courthouse (as it most certainly does), you MAY NOT leave your firearm in the car; you MUST carry it into the courthouse in defiance of the orders of the armed guards there, lest you stand accused byRad Geekofwanting to save all their unconstitutional gun laws.
You must, in short, PRETEND that all current conditions of which you disapprove DO NOT EXIST.
In the real world, this is a good way to quickly get yourself killed. ButRad Geekwill accuse us ofwanting to saveany current condition that we merely acknowledge ascurrently existing.
Do the illegal aliens stand up and declareWe reject your laws, here we stand with our guns, we’re willing to risk death to proclaim that your laws have no dominance over us,like the patriots at Lexington and Concord?Are they fighting to free us, as well as themselves, from unconstitutional tyranny? I haven’t noticed them doing that. What I notice them doing is walking away from car crashes and hospital bills and orders to appear in court to answer for their crimes, refusing to take any responsibility for the damage they cause.
Yes, if there were no tax-fundedcommons,and none of us were numbered or taxed, the arrival of a million strangers seeking work would do me little harm, provided they maintained reasonable sanitary safeguards. WhenRad Geek,hiding in the shadows of anonymity, has managed to accomplish goals to which courageous Libertarians have been unable to win over even 5 percent of our casually socialist neighbors in 40 years of effort, I hope he’ll let us know.
Meantime, since he wants to speak in hypotheticals, let’s pretendRad Geekis a landlord or an employer, telling all applicants who speak poor English,I’m not going to rent to you or offer you a job, because I think you may be an illegal immigrant and I don’t want to become an accessory to your crime.Do you think our brave federal bureaucrats will congratulate him and back him to the hilt, demanding the applicant prove he or she is here legally?
Those employers and landlords soon find themselves in an Alice-and-Wonderland world, threatened with fines by the EEOC and other alphabet bureaucracies, you simpering innocent.Presumably my boss and landlord are willing?Go talk to a few of them, before you go presuming too much, you ivory-tower twit.
Why do you suppose Barack Obama declines to putE-Verifyinto widespread use?
Yes, I would prefer noSocial Slave numberorinternal passportwere necessary to go about my business. But if we WERE allowed to take one state of 50, and make it a Libertarian state, hasn’t it occurred to you that we’d have to require new immigrants to forswear socialism, under oath, and upon penalty of immediate exile, before granting them the right to vote? Otherwise, we’d be swarmed by socialists fleeing their own dysfunctional enclaves, who would immediately vote to tax their wealthier neighbors for their own sustenance, at which point we would have accomplished nothing at all.
My reply, from behind that cloak of anonymity:
“Rad Geek” is a pseudonym, but it’s hardly a “cloak of anonymity.” If you spent a minute searching for it on Google, you’d find my website, which (among other things) talks at length about what my views are, who I am, where I live, what my real name is, and what I’ve published under my name. I don’t usually post comments on the Internet under my given name because it’s a common name, which happens to be shared by at least one prominent blogger with radically different views from mine, so that “Rad Geek” actually provides you with a more reliable way of finding out who I am and what I stand for thanCharles Johnsonwould.
Not that your sniping about pseudonyms as against big manly signatures, or your thuggish anti-intellectual sniping at “ivory-tower twits” has anything to do with the argument; these are simply textbook examples of argumentum ad hominem (abusive form).
Warning of — heck, simply observing — the consequences of allowing unlimited millions of people to violate American immigration laws, arriving here to flood the government welfare schools and enormously expensive tax-subsidized hospital emergency rooms every time they come down with the sniffles, means I want tosavethese evil redistributionist schemes?
The question is simple. If you don’t want to save government welfare schools and tax-subsidized hospitals, then why in the world do you care whether or not they are flooded? Are you normally in the business of advising government bureaucrats about how to keep their unsustainable socialist schemes running?
By this logic, if you believe the Constitution forbids government agents from restricting your right to carry a loaded firerarm into a federal courthouse (as it most certainly does), you MAY NOT leave your firearm in the car; you MUST carry it into the courthouse in defiance of the orders of the armed guards there, lest you stand accused byRad Geekofwanting to save all their unconstitutional gun laws.
Well, no. All that I think youMUSTdo is refrain from cheering on government agents when they go to arrest, exile or kill those who DO choose to exercise their rights.
If you stand by government police when they do try to enforce tyrannical gun laws on innocent people exercising their rights, then yes, you are trying to save tyrannical gun laws. Otherwise, no, you aren’t.
Of course, the problem here is that you ARE explicitly calling for bigger and more aggressive government when it comes to monitoring, policing and punishing illegal immigrants. Even though you haven’t anywhere stated who they aretrespassingagainst by living in the U.S. without a permission slip from the federal government. And one of the reasons you give for this is the alleged effects of free immigration on cockamaimey socialist schemes that you yourself consider wasteful and foolish.
Yes, if there were no tax-fundedcommons,and none of us were numbered or taxed, the arrival of a million strangers seeking work would do me little harm, provided they maintained reasonable sanitary safeguards.
It’s true that when you combine something basically moral (free immigration) with something completely immoral (government subsidies for education and medicine) you may get bad results from the combination. But why spend your time attacking the moral part of the combination, instead of the immoral part?
Are they fighting to free us, as well as themselves, from unconstitutional tyranny? I haven’t noticed them doing that. What I notice them doing is walking away from car crashes and hospital bills and orders to appear in court to answer for their crimes, refusing to take any responsibility for the damage they cause.
I don’t care whether or not illegal immigrants fight to free me from tyranny. A little help is always appreciated, but I don’t think that fighting for everybody else’s freedom is necessary for people to be justified in breaking unjust laws. Do you think the American Revolutionaries should have been expected to fight not only for their own freedom but also to free the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, the English commoners, or any number of other victims of tyrannical English government? Do you expect Ford to make cars for GM?
As for those fighting their own freedom, maybe it’s a matter of who you know. I know plenty of undocumented immigrants who are actively engaged in pro-freedom politics and against the bordercrats’Papers pleasepolice state.
And as for irresponsibility, I’m sure there are some individual illegal immigrants who are irresponsible. So what? I hear some native-born Americans are irresponsible, too. In a free society, institutions work to hold individual people responsible for what they do. They don’t launch massive collectivist campaigns to hunt down and exile whole populations regardless of whether or not they have ever actually done any of the things you mention.
But if we WERE allowed to take one state of 50, and make it a Libertarian state, hasn’t it occurred to you that we’d have to require new immigrants to forswear socialism, under oath, and upon penalty of immediate exile, before granting them the right to vote?
No. I don’t believe in using government to police political thought.
I also don’t know how you intend to enforce these immigration restrictions you plan on implementing without exactly the sort of Officially Permitted Citizen,Papers-pleasedocumentation requirements that you claim you would prefer to abolish.
Those employers and landlords soon find themselves in an Alice-and-Wonderland world, threatened with fines by the EEOC and other alphabet bureaucracies, you simpering innocent.
Oh, please. If you think that Tyson wouldn’t be hiring any illegal immigrants but for the nefarious manipulations of the EEOC, I think you probably need to think about this harder.
Of course, in specific cases where a landlord would like to exclude illegal — or for that matter legal — immigrants from renting apartments, or a boss would like not to hire them, I think that he or she ought to have the right to do so, and that if the EEOC tries to interfere, the EEOC is violating the rights of that boss or landlord. But of course this doesn’t answer the question of who illegal immigrants aretrespassingagainst. If the landlord doesn’t give a damn where the tenant comes from as long as she pays her rent — and many landlords don’t — and if the boss doesn’t give a damn where the worker comes from as long as she does her job — and many bosses don’t — then just who the hell is left for thistrespasserto trespass against?
(For more on how border laws necessarily entail police state measures, inflicted on immigrants and natives alike, see GT 2009-04-17: Death by Homeland Security #3: The Disappeared and GT 2008-01-27: Someone must have slandered Thomas W…..)
The question is simple. If you don’t want to save government welfare schools and tax-subsidized hospitals, then why in the world do you care whether or not they are flooded?
Because I am taxed to pay for them. I am given no choice in the matter. If I refuse to pay the (ever-increasing) taxes to fund these things, the government will (it has, since I have fought these battles for real, not merely as alet’s pretendintellectual exercise) ) seize(d) my paychecks. It will eventually seize and expel me from my house.
Illegal immigrants, who are trespassing because they come where they have no legal right to be, violating the laws of the place to which they travel , tend to vote socialist, because they are looters. Ask those charged with collecting hospital bills how many illegal aliens make good faith efforts to pay their bills. Those who wouldamnestythem will guarantee the continued spread of socialism, bankrupting us all.
There IS a theory that this is a good thing:Let socialism be overburdened and collapse. Then we will build a better, more Libertarian society on the ruins.
Interesting theory. It can be argued, for instance, that a society more respectful of the Rights of Man [sic] was built on the ruins of Rome, once Rome fell.
It was. The only problem is … it took about a thousand years.
If there is no right to exclude looters from our midst; if we must allow free entry of anyone who wants to come to our community — and the smallest community is my house — and then allow them to decide how my stuff shall be redistributedby majority vote,then freedom of a family of three can last only until fourguest workersbreak down their front door andvoteon how to divvy up the food in the refrigerator.
This is the current reality.Rad Geeksupports it, apparently under the delusion this is some kind of admirableconscientious objection.,whereas organizing a campaign to track down and punish lawbreakers is inherentlycollectivist.I rarely find myself supporting the existence or activities of the FBI, but I fail to see how it’s despicablycollectivistfor them to try to catch and punish runaway rapists, murderers, and stickup men.
Or those who violate our perfectly constitutional immigration laws.
I would wish him a happy life in the Looters’ Carnival he prescribes for all of us … if only I were not forced at gunpoint to share it with him.
I have no idea how an open demand for the abolition of all existing border laws constitutes supportingthe current reality,but whatevs. In any case, my reply was posted to, and appeared publicly in, Suprynowicz’s comment section, on the next morning, but within a day it was deep-sixed into the WordPress moderation queue. Of course, Vin’s blog is his place, and he can choose what to print or not to print; but if the unabridged version of the conversation won’t appear there, I’ll publish it here, as a matter of record, and to keep things open for further discussion and comment:
Because I am taxed to pay for them.
This is pretty rich, coming from someone who vocally insists on the right of tax-mooching immigration bureaucrats and a jackbooted federal police agency to reach their hands into the tax slush fund to enforce immigration policies that I never asked for and don’t want, and then tax me to pay for it against my will.
In any case, in a welfare statist system, it is true that government forces to pay for everyone—and that it forces everyone to pay for you. But this is true regardless of immigration status. Every time some pair of Officially Approved Citizens send their Officially Approved children to government schools, the government spends money which is ultimately extracted from your pockets and mine. I have no idea why you would blame this on people who could not possibly have shaved one cent off of your taxes by refusing to accept government hand-outs — do you suppose that if government doesn’t spend tax funds on schools, it’ll give the money back to taxpayers? ho, ho, ho — rather than blaming it on the people who are actually taxing you.
But in any case, if you are going to blame the people who reclaim government-seized money, rather than the government that seizes the money in the first place, then you do realize, don’t you, that illegal immigrants aren’t special in any particular way on this count? That you could use this argument just as easily to justify government force against just about anyone — government-enforced population control (since children receive big tax subsidies for education, healthcare, etc.), internal passports (since immigrants from poorer states tend to move to richer states and take advantage of the more plentiful welfare benefits), summarily jailing and exiling everyone over the age of 65 (seeing how they mooch of Social Security and Medicare, usually far in excess of what they paid in when they were working), or any other collectivist horror you might dream up.
Perhaps, rather than creating a police state in order to hunt down, round up, and punish those who take receive welfare payments funded by taxation, the thing you should be doing is focusing on the real problem — the welfare state and confiscatory taxation?
Illegal immigrants … tend to vote socialist, because they are looters.
Dude, what you are talking about? Illegal immigrants don’t tend to vote at all in the U.S., because illegal immigrants can’t legally vote.
Maybe you’re worried about what would happen if currently undocumented immigrants were able to become citizens, and then to vote. The fact is that right now, in the real world, immigrants from California pose a much bigger threat to freedom in Nevada than immigrants from Mexico do. And the real threat is not immigrants from anywhere, but rather from unlimited majoritarian democracy, which is always going to have these problems regardless of who can or cannot immigrate. Maybe you would be better served by focusing on the real problem, rather than on trying to get government to police political beliefs (!) or on getting government to inflict punishment on all members of a population for the bad thoughts or bad behavior of some of them?
Ask those charged with collecting hospital bills how many illegal aliens make good faith efforts to pay their bills.
You know, as it turns out, there are already perfectly just laws against refusing to pay your bills, without getting the federal bordercrats involved.
Surprisingly, it turns out that the appropriate punishment for this is not exile from the country.
Also, surprisingly, they don’t take a federal police state or “Papers, please” checkpoints to enforce.
Also, as it turns out, the laws against running out on your bills generally only allow for you to go after the individual person who actually defaults on the bill, or occasionally close family members — in any case, not against complete strangers and entire populations on the collectivist premise that everybody in that population can be held to account for the bad behavior of a bunch of perfect strangers who just happened to come from the same country as they did.
I have no idea what the hell you think this kind of collective guilt-by-association smear, let alone your proposal for addressing it by means of collective punishment of both the innocent and the guilty, has to do with the politics of individual liberty.
If there is no right to exclude looters from our midst;
You have a perfect right to exclude anyone you want from your private property, for any reason, or for no reason at all. What neither you, nor the United States federal government, has any legitimate right to do, is to go around excluding people from my private property, let alone inflicting a massive system of “Papers, please” documentation requirements and checkpoints on me in order to do so, without my permission and indeed against my will.
So, please, exclude whoever you want from your midst. But who’s “we”, kemosabe? Keep your preferences on your own property.
if we must allow free entry of anyone who wants to come to our community
You have a perfect right to evict trespassers from your own property.
The problem is, you see, that “the community” as a whole is not your private property. Or the United States federal government’s. Sorry.… and then allow them to decide how my stuff shall be redistributed “by majority vote,” then freedom of a family of three can last only until four “guest workers” break down their front door and “vote” on how to divvy up the food in the refrigerator.
This is of course a ridiculous strawman of my position. I explicitly argued above that private property owners should have a right to exclude anyone they want from their own private property.
It’s also pretty rich, hearing this stirring defense of the sanctity of the family home and private property, come from someone who is so angrily insisting that the federal government has a right to send federal police agencies around and stage stormtrooper raids on my private home or workplace, if some elected government passes a “perfectly constitutional” law that says that I can’t invite who I damn well please onto my own damn property.
Or those who violate our perfectly constitutional immigration laws.
Your immigration laws, maybe. Not mine. I wasn’t asked, I didn’t pass them, I don’t enforce them, and I don’t support them; they are inflicted on me and on people I care about without my permission, against my will, and over my explicit protests. Keep that “our” to yourself.
organizing a campaign to track down and punish lawbreakers is inherently “collectivist.”
It is when the laws you’re trying to enforce are collectivist.
Illegal immigrants, who are trespassing because they come where they have no legal right to be, violating the laws of the place to which they travel ,
Again. Trespassers against whom? You can only trespass against the will of an aggrieved property owner; that’s part of the meaning of the word “trespass.” But the laws you’re talking don’t come from the owners of the property on that illegal immigrants live on, or work on. They are passed by government.
Staying somewhere in the U.S. that the United States federal government doesn’t want you to stay is “trespassing” only if you think that the United States federal government is in fact the rightful owner of all the land in the United States. Do you?
I don’t. My view is that the government is not the rightful owner of my home or my business. I am. If I want to invite anyone to peacefully move in on my land (for love or money), or to work for me in my shop, that is exactly none of the government’s business, and the fact that people have not gotten a permission slip from the federal government doesn’t make them “trespassers” on my land — when they have permission from me.
As for whether or not It’s The Law, who gives a damn? Seriously? So’s tax evasion; so’s nonviolent drug use; so’s owning an unlicensed fully-automatic AK-47; lots of things are Against The Law that government actually has no legitimate right to prosecute or punish people for doing. When that happens, the problem is with the government law, not with the law-breakers.
—Rad Geek, June 17th, 2009 at 10:46am
On which, see also GT 2006-04-09: Freedom Movement Celebrity Deathmatch.
Elsewhere, Tom Knapp stages atough loveintervention against border-creep libertarians. And while I’ll thank him for the support, I can’t agree with Justin M. Stoddard (2009-06-18) that Icompletely owned Vin Suprynowicz.Inalienability, you know.
Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas Review-Journal’
Here’s regular Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and occasional libertarian Vin Suprynowicz, in a recent column against so-calledPolitical Correctnessin American Universities:
Internationally renowned Austrian economics professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe used a standard textbook example of investment time preferences in a classroom lecture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a few years back, pointing out that gay couples often invest with shorter time horizons[*] because they are less likely to have children to profit from investments that mature after they’re gone.
Actually, what happened is that, in a lecture on time-preference in economics, Hoppe listed homosexuals alongside small children, muggers, murderers, rapists, and democratically-elected politicians, as an example of a group of people whose supposedly high time-preferences supposedly led to destructive or antisocial behavior.
Suprynowicz describes this asa standard textbook example of investment time preference.That’s a claim that makes me curious. Is it really? Can anyone name at least one college economics textbook in common use that cites homosexuals as an example of a group characterized by high time-preferences?
* Actually, the lecture had nothing especially to do withinvestmentsorinvestingin the conventional sense of the word. Hoppe’s examples of actions driven by high time-preference included consumption of snack foods, muggings, rape, and tax increases. On the whole sorry, stupid affair see Jason Kuznicki (2005-02-12): Last Words on Hoppe and GT 2005-02-08: Hoppe and Churchill: On the Justice of Strange Bedfellows.
Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.
The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:
To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.
—Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen
All Bizarro News that am unfit to print. In which a argument against an imaginary, Bizarro World version individualism is set to fight with a completely imaginary Bizarro GOP which somehow becamethe party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice(?!). For more on an earlier installment in David Brooks’s concerted efforts to liberate the Republican Party from moral principles that it never held, cf. GT 2009-01-28: How to be social while staying civilized
On intersections, boundaries, and fortifications. bfp, flip flopping joy (2009-05-01): northern territory, sexual activity, teens and police state. In which Ozzie territorial governments set out to create a territorial sex-Stasi to coerce reports of any and all sexual contact by Aboriginal teenagers. Including consensual sex or fooling-around between one teenager and another. Quote:This sort of nation/state targeted monitoring of the sexuality of teens/young people is something most people of color are vividly aware of. When you through in queerness, disability, and nationality (among others), and community expectations, things for especially teen girls of color get even worse. How do we learn, engage in, and trust ourselves to build a healthy fabulous sexuality when from the time we reach reproductive age, the nation/state literally owns the first and final say as to what happens to our bodies? How do we learn to saynooryeswhen the nation/state insists on doing it for us?
We need democratic governments instead of private protection agencies to ensure that political decision-making remain transparent and decision-makers are held accountable to the people: Molly Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-05-10): SECRET GOVERNMENT: Lawmakers keep public out as session winds down with most important decisions looming
On planes as prisons and terrorizing assecurity: Jessica Bautista & Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News (2009-05-12): Blind interpreter detained at Philly airport says he has nightmares from arrest (On which, cf. also GT 2008-05-07: Airport security.)
On legal lynching, part 2. For part 1, see last week, where I said this:When Anarchists propose that all the functions currently controlled by the authoritarian State, including the judgment of cases involving disputes or violent crimes, we are inevitably told that without a State-controlled, hierarchical system of courts, you’d have nothing more than the justice of the lynch mob. This is actually a classic example of statist inversion: by focusing on the dangers that informal and irregular efforts at seeking justice will lead to a disregard for objectivity or evidence, the statist completely blanks out the ways in which formalization and enforced hierarchy oblige government courts to disregard evidence themselves in the name of formal procedures, and to elevate authority above objectivity, by standing on ceremony or respect for turf at the expense of substantive justice. If the state’s plans to murder Troy Anthony Davis are not an example of a slow-motion lynching, what is?To which we will add, this week: Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-18): Prosecutors Blocking Access to DNA Testing In which government prosecutors make active efforts to block access to DNA tests that could potentially exonerate the innocent, all in the name ofyou-had-your-chancejurisdictional turf wars and statist legalfinality.
The police are here to keep us safe. By driving their cruisers at 109 MPH in a 45 zone, on a major commercial thoroughfare, late at night, with no sirens and no flashing lights. Then, when this predictably leads to a fatal crash that kills one of the cops, by lying about it to the media in order to make your dead buddy look like more of a hero, and by arresting the poor innocent man that the cop slammed into at 90 MPH for his allegedly reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 2. Radley Balko, Hit & Run (2009-05-18): Cops Gone Wild, in which cops from around the country celebrate National Police Week in D.C. with wine, weapons, and reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 3. Commentary from Center for a Stateless Society news analyst Tom Knapp (2009-05-18): To Serve and Protect (Themselves)
Name your own salary. Las Vegas Sun (2009-05-16): City, county may lose say in police pay negotiations. Las Vegas Metro is currently working to get a new state law passed which would allow Vegas cops to get a salary set unilaterally by their own boss cop, and then send the bill, whatever it may be, to folks who had absolutely no say whatsoever in the negotiations.
The Gangsters in Blue come to Philly. Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-01): Update on Bodega Raids by Rogue Philly Narcotics Unit Balko asks, apparently non-rhetorically,Why did no one in the department ask why anCome on, really? The reason is that the State as such is essentially irresponsible, and this kind of thing is Standard Operating Procedure forelitenarcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?elitenarc squads. There’s a lot here to justify outrage, but very little to justify surprise.
On terror-famines for the international narco-crats. Jacob Sullum, Hit & Run (2009-04-30): U.S. Intensifies Campaign to Wipe Out Afghan Economy. Cf. GT 2004-11-20: The tall poppies and GT 2007-01-13: The tall poppies, part 2.
Austro-Athenian Virtue Ethics versus Moral Fictionalism. Neverfox, Instead of a Blog (2009-05-17): Pulp Non-Fiction
How political control of schools produces terrible textbooks. Tamim Ansary, Edutopia (November 2004): A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education. (Via B.K. Marcus, lowercase liberty (2009-05-18): What’s wrong with textbooks?)
On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative
Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote:In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor.Exactly; and the many cases where there are not reallymarket failures,but ratherownership failures,have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.
Againsttax-and-regulatereformism, and in praise of a thriving black market economy: Crispin Sartwell, eye of the storm 2009-05-18
Law among the pirates. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-05-19): To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest
Package-dealing portable double-key encryption for web browsing and web mail: Chris Acheson (2009-05-05): Firefox Portable + GnuPG + FireGPG = CryptoFox. (Via @H+ [2009-05-20], via Human Iterations 2009-05-21.)
On freeing the MHD3 and all political prisoners. By way of follow-up to the recent report on the bullshit arrest and jailing of the Motorhome Diaries crew, see Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-15): Jones County Sheriff’s Department Falsely Arrests MHD Crew, which recounts the full timeline of their arrest, jailing, and release. See also Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-17): Thanks for springing the MHD3 from Jones County (with Allison Gibbs), Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): The “Grumbling Old Fart” Addresses Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge’s Statements, Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): MHD on Freedom Watch
Don’t vote. Secede and repudiate. Stewart Browne, Strike the Root (2009-05-18): A New Strategy For Liberty - Part 2: Secession in Three Easy Steps
You saypissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hairlike it’s supposed to be a bad thing… Kevin Carson @ Mutualist Blog (2009-05-21): An Open Letter to Keith Preston, Mike Gogulski @ nostate.com (2009-05-21): Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass, Darian Worden (2009-05-21): Perverts Versus Preston, and Brad Spangler (2009-05-22): Bigotry and Revolution
Boston Anarchist Reading Group. Jake, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-17): Anarchist Reading Group at the Boston Anarchist Picnic! June 6th, 2009
Iconoclasta for Colombian anarquistas: Revista Iconoclasta - Anarcol, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-15): New anarchist periodical in Bogota - Iconoclasta. More information online at http://prensaiconoclasta.entodaspartes.net/.
New subscriptions. Anarchy in the Garden
As you may recall, Ted Marshall owns a warehouse in downtown Las Vegas. Like many buildings in downtown Las Vegas, Ted Marshall’s warehouse has been repeatedly vandalized by taggers. Like many property-owners in downtown Las Vegas, he covered up the graffiti several times, only to have new taggers come by and paint more on. Then, one day, he found some graffiti on his wall that he kind of liked, and he decided that he wanted to leave that design up on his own building’s wall. So the city of Las Vegas fined him $930 for having graffiti he wanted up on a wall he owns.
Ted Marshall thought this was bull crap: the city government shouldn’t force him to pay to get rid of a design that vandals put up without his permission, and, while we’re at it, the city government shouldn’t force him to pay fines for leaving designs he wants to leave up on his own building. Ted Marshall’srepresentativeon the city council, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, replies:
I don’t want graffiti on any buildings in the city of Las Vegas. He said it was artistic or something, but for me, it’s a crime. For him to stand there and say he’s sick and tired and he’s going to leave it how it is — that’s bull crap.
Please remember that in the view of the Las Vegas city council, what matters is what Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese does or does not want on buildings in the city of Las Vegas — certainly not what the mere owners of those buildings want or do not want on them.
Mary Price, falsely identified as a spokeswoman for the city of Las Vegas (actually, she speaks for the government, not for the city), adds:
It’s likeany other situation where you have property damage,city spokeswoman Mary Ann Price explains.If you had a burned-out building … it creates a hazard. You as the property owner would be responsible for it.
She’s right that this is just like any other situation where you have property damage. As long as a burned-out building, no matter howhazardous,doesn’t actually threaten to damage anybody else’s property, the city government has absolutely no business forcing the property owner to fix that up, either, if she would rather not do so. Why should they?
The Review-Journal’s editorial board informs us thatThe whole issue is surprisingly simple, once viewed through the lens of property rights.Indeed it is. The issue here is that Mary Ann Price and Gary Reese — by the grace of Law Mayor Pro Tempore, Defender of Order, and Vaquero Supreme of the Vegas Valley — believe that the whole city of Las Vegas is their own rightful property, by concession of the sovereign state and federal governments, which the supposedownersof land and buildings really only lease on Gary Reese’s terms and at his pleasure. They believe that they have the right to tell you what they do or don’t want to see, how they do or don’t want it used, and who you can or cannot invite to use it, in the name of maintaining what they see as good taste, or good business, or protecting the property values in their personal domains. If you’re not interested in helping them maintain a touch of class with the land or the buildings that you were foolish enough to think you owned, then they tell you that your claim isbull crap,that their opinions about the proper disposal of your building matter far more than yours, and they will send professional busybodies and armed thugs to inform you of yourresponsibilities,then to harass you, shove you around, fine you, and ultimately to jail you or kill you if you should resist their efforts to collect.
[This story has been censored for the time being due to an ongoing campaign of legal extortion being conducted against bloggers by Righthaven LLC.]
As part of its ongoing campaign of socio-economic cleansing, the city government of Las Vegas has taken a bold step against vandalism and graffiti. The problem with graffiti, you’ll remember, is that no matter how artistic it may be, it defaces somebody’s private property without their permission. So now the city of Las Vegas will force you to paint over the graffiti, without your permission, and fine you $900 and up if you choose to leave it up on your own wall.
Well, thank God, says I. If the city government weren’t sending around a bunch of professional busybodies and armed thugs to make sure that Ted Marshall’s walls stay painted the way he wanted them painted — even if he doesn’t want to pant them that way anymore — well, who would? Not Ted Marshall, that’s for sure. Why, it’d be sheer— well, you know.
- GT 2008-07-09: Well, thank God #10: Got Milk? edition
- GT 2008-05-14: Well, thank God #9: Income Taxi edition
- GT 2008-01-16: Well, thank God #8: Civil Tongue edition
- GT 2007-09-19: Well, thank God #7: sagging and the new sumptuary laws
- GT 2006-08-31: Well, thank God #6: Raed Jarrar and ostensive definitions
- GT 2006-07-18: Well, thank God #5: the Director’s Guild triumphs over insurgent customers
- GT 2006-06-27: Well, thank God #4: Unauthorized Erections edition
- GT 2006-02-23: Well, thank God #3: National Caffeine Awareness Month
- GT 2005-12-05: Well, thank God #2: We Are The Champions edition
- GT 2005-10-27: Well, thank God: The Bluest Eye edition
Yes, Virginia, government roads really are government subsidized, and no, they don’t approximate freed-market outcomes
When left-libertarians argue with more conventionally pro-capitalist libertarians about economics, one of the issues that often comes up is government control over roads, and the ways in which state and federal government’s control over roads has acted as a large subsidy for economic centralization and national-scale production and distribution networks (and thus, to large-scalebig boxretailers, like Wal-Mart or Best Buy, dependent on the crafty arrangement of large-scale cross-country shipping as a basic part of their business model). People who have a problem with this analysis sometimes try to dispute it by arguing that government roads aren’t actually subsidized — that heavy users of government roads are actually getting something that roughly approximates a freed-market outcome, because users of government roads pay for the roads they get, in proportion to how heavily they use them, because government roads are funded by gasoline taxes, tire taxes, and government-imposed licensing fees, which all go up in cost more or less proportionally to increases in use of government roads. Thus (the argument goes), funding for government roads is more like a fee-for-service transaction on a freed market than it’s like a classic case of government subsidies. But in fact, this argument is completely bogus, for at least three reasons.
The first reason is that, contrary to popular misconception, government-imposed gasoline taxes anduser feeson road users do not actually fully fund the costs of government road-building and maintenance; government funding of roads actually includes a substantial subsidy extracted from taxpayers independently of their usage of the roads. Government budgets for road building and maintenance in the US draw from general funds as well as from earmarked gas taxes anduser fees, and those budgets are subsidized by state, local, and federal government to the tune of about 20–70 cents per gallon of gasoline expended.
The second reason, which ought to be obvious to libertarians given how much we have talked about the use of eminent domain over the past few years, is that government road-building is substantially subsidized by the fact that government can — and routinely does — use the power of eminent domain to seize large, contiguous stretches of land for road building at arbitrarily fixed rates below what the land-owners could have demanded in a free market land sale. Even if it were the case (as it is not) that usage-based levies like gasoline taxes and government licensing fees were enough to cover the budget for government road building and maintenance, that budget has already had a massive, unmentioned government subsidy factored into it due to the use of eminent domain.
The third reason is that a freed market is able to match the supply for roads to the demand at something like the appropriate cost not only because people pay for the roads in proportion to their use of the roads, but also because the prices for road use are set by negotiations between road users and road builders in a competitive market, and because the ownership and management patterns of roads are determined by patterns of free economic decisions to buy, sell, lease, develop, abandon, reclaim, and subdivide land. Freed markets aren’t just a matter of paying for what you get (as important as that is); they also have to do with the freedom to get what you get by alternative means, and with patterns of ownership and control based on consensual negotiation rather than on force. No matter how roads are funded, there is no way to approximate freed-market results with government monopoly on sales or politically-determined allocation of ownership. (Again, this is something that ought to be obvious; it is just the socialist calculation problem applied to the market for road transportation.)
And roads funded by government-imposed gasoline taxes will always be either noncompetitive or subsidized: if there were any significant private roads competing with roads funded by government gasoline taxes, the taxes on the gasoline that drivers burn on those roads become a subsidy to the government-controlled roads. The more users use the non-government roads, the more they would be subsidizing the government roads.
Further, the ownership and management patterns of government roads are determined by electoral horse-trading and arbitrary political jurisdictions, not by free economic actors. As a result, decisions about what roads to build, how to direct funds to those roads, how to price the use of those roads, etc. are typically made by state or federal legislatures, or state or federal executive bureaus. Governments are far more responsive to political than to economic pressure; governments generally will not, or cannot, sell off roads or spin off control over local roads to the people who use them most and can best manage them; state and federal governments exercise centralized control over far larger fiefs than it would ever be possible or profitable to amass on a free market. Thus, for example, because the building and maintenance of roads in Las Vegas is controlled, not by free market actors in Las Vegas, but rather by the Nevada state government, we have Las Vegas drivers paying in 70% of the state’s gas taxes and getting back only 61% of the state’s spending on roads (which is an increase over the 2003–07 average of 53%) — meaning that we are forced to turn tens of millions of dollars over to subsidizing highway building and maintenance in the rest of Nevada. Here’s NDOT’s reasoning as to why we should get stuck with the bill:
If NDOT based its road building program strictly on usage, [NDOT assistant director of engineering Kent] Cooper said, then no new highways would be built outside of Clark County.
He noted that freeways in Las Vegas attract 150,000 to more than 200,000 vehicles a day. No other area in the state has such high use.
Now, maybe Kent Cooper thinks that it is just and wise to force Las Vegas drivers to pay tens of millions of dollars in subsidies so that NDOT can build expensive roads that nobody wants to use.
Maybe he’s right about that, and maybe he’s wrong. But whatever the case may be, the only way to get freed market results in roads is by freeing the market. Under government ownership, government funding, and government control, roads are subsidized by taxes that are levied independently of road usage, built using a subsidy created by forced seizure of land, and users of high-volume local roads are typically forced to subsidize expensive, long-distance cross-country roads that they aren’t using. This kind of allocation of resources for long-distance, non-local highways — which further distorts an already subsidy-distorted system by distorting the flow of money within that system away from the heavily-used local roads and into the high-cost, high maintenance long-distance roads, can certainly not be called any kind of approximation of a freed market in roads.